Hold on Thomas


If he lets go, a number of contingency plans kick into play.


Roscosmos / O Novitsky

European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet is shown here hanging on to the pallet of Japan’s HTV-6 supply ship, docked at the International Space Station. Should he lose his grip, a self-reeling foot tether, extending from behind his left foot, will reel him into the airlock. Fellow European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano was reeled in this way after his helmet filled with water during a 2013 spacewalk.

Another belt tether is clipped from rail to rail as Pesquet walks across the space station’s exterior. And if both tethers fail, nitrogen thrusters on Thomas’ jetpack could push him back to safety.

But for this mid-January spacewalk, all went to plan. Pesquet upgraded the station’s solar arrays and carried out a few other chores. The job took five hours and 58 minutes.

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